On Saturday night, the Los Angeles Galaxy (7-2-5, 26 pts.) will step onto the Gillette Stadium pitch to seeking more than just a victory against the Revolution (3-4-4, 13 pts.).
Back on March 20th, the underdog Revs pilfered a point from the Galaxy thanks, in part, to a Juninho goal that was wiped off the board when a phantom foul was called on Mike Magee inside the box. Despite outplaying the Revs in nearly every facet, the Galaxy walked away with only one point for their efforts as the scoreboard flashed the 1-1 score at the final whistle. With the memory of that affair likely unforgotten, it’s clear that L.A. has some unfinished business to attend to against the Revs.
Meanwhile, the Revs would be happy to steal any points they can get in the wake of last week’s 2-1 loss at San Jose. Although the Revs hadn’t seen much success in sunny California, there had to be optimism on the guests’ bench when the Revs began to assert themselves in the midst of a 0-0 match.
But, it came crashing down within minutes when Ellis McLoughlin and Bobby Convey scored for San Jose in the final 20 minutes. Even though Chris Tierney brought one back to make it a 2-1 game in the 86th minute, it was simply a matter of too little, too late as the stagnant Revs attack (two goals in their last four games) continues to haunt them.
One thing that certainly hasn’t been a problem for the Galaxy since their 1-1 draw to the Revs has been scoring goals -- of the legitimate nature, of course. With a league-best 19 goals scored this season, the Galaxy enter Saturday night’s match riding the momentum of a five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2).
Although they may have squeaked by Houston with a 1-0 victory on Wednesday, the Galaxy’s high-flying attack, powered by Landon Donovan, has no intention of playing for the road draw this weekend. And rest assured that the opportunity to take the three points that eluded them back in March hasn’t escaped the Galaxy’s psyche.
Claiming victory against the class of the league will be no easy task for New England. But it’s not impossible. Last July, the Revs shocked the Galaxy by taking a 2-0 win at Gillette Stadium. While it may be hard to duplicate that feat with Landon Donovan (who didn’t travel with the team last July in the wake of his World Cup obligations) at L.A.’s disposal this time, the Revs must accomplish the following to have a shot at another upset.
Erase Donovan from the picture. Easier said than done, of course. But, the Revs defense was up to the task in March, even if the windy and wet conditions aided their efforts in keeping the dangerous playmaker at bay. With the forecast calling for dry and clear conditions tomorrow night, the defenders will have to rely on skill and execution alone to shut down one of the league’s best players.
Win the midfield battle. During the 1-1 draw on March 20th, the Revs were more than just fortunate to take a point from L.A. They were downright lucky, especially with the way in which the midfield failed to keep possession. That being said, the Revs cannot allow the Galaxy -- who boast one of the league’s best midfields -- to overtake them in the middle third if the hosts have any ambitions of winning the game.
Score goals and score goals. It’s a broken record that won’t stop skipping until the Revolution attack shows up. They cannot rely on set pieces alone to get on the board. It’s been over a month since the Revs have punched the back of the net from the run of play, and they’ll need to find more opportunities in the final third in order to do so. With the L.A.’s potent attack in town, there’s no doubt the Revs will have to create some offense of their own to keep it from becoming a bloodbath.
Saturday night’s match presents one of the toughest challenges the Revs will see all season. And while it may be just another road game for L.A., it’s a chance for the Revs to right the ship after a month’s worth of sailing in the wrong direction.
Brian O'Connell is covering the Revolution for ESPNBoston.com. He is the co-founder of New England Soccer Today (www.nesoccertoday.com), which covers professional soccer within New England. He can be reached at BOConnell21@aol.com.